Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poking Around Port Angeles

My buddy (and Sacramento Beer Week UBH companion) Kjell recently moved up to Port Angeles for some reason, so a couple of friends and I decided to make the short trip up to visit him last week.  There are few, if any, breweries over in that neck of the woods, but that doesn't mean Port Angeles has nothing to offer a beer hiker.  You just have to know where to look and have some patience.   Kjell's pal Mark was a big source of help in planning this hike.  He's lived there for a bunch of years and is a budding beer geek himself.  He was giddy as a school girl at the idea of a UBH in his backyard.  (This one literally ended in his backyard.  He has a kegerator.)  Unfortunately, due to shitty timing on our part, Mark was only able to join us for the second half of the hike.

View Port Angeles UBH in a larger map

We began around 2pm at Kjell's new little bachelor pad, not far from downtown in a quiet little neighborhood.  He usually only has Budweiser and corn liquor in the house, but since he knew I was coming, he classed it up a little bit and bought some IPA (can't remember which) and a half-case of Alaskan White.  I was itching to get on the path, so we made quick work of our first beers and set off for our first stop.  A light rain was beginning to roll in.

Downrigger's Restaurant is inside the Landing Mall, right on the Port Angeles waterfront, next to the Victoria, B.C. ferry terminal.  The entrance to the bar is far removed from the entrance to the building, so leaving Link outside was not an option.  We brought him inside the mall and hitched him up just outside the Downrigger's lounge.  Sometimes it's best not to ask and just do it.  If anyone complained, I was ready to comply and move on to the next stop, but no one seemed to have a problem with it.

The lounge area at Downrigger's has a stunning view of the port, even on a gray, rainy day like this.  The tanker being offloaded about a half-mile away looked impossibly huge, like Darth Vader's Executor Super Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back.  The lounge itself had a really strange vibe to it -- eerily quiet and still.  There were a lot of seniors around (it was still pretty early at this point, about 3pm) all of the TVs were off, and the only music playing was coming from the dining area in the next room.  It was coma-inducing harp music, like you might hear in a funeral home.  Bizarre.  We all had 12 oz. mugs of Port Townsend Scotch Ale (except Kjell, who had a Blue Moon) while Link watched patiently through the door.  It was a view he'd be very used to by the end of this hike.

Not puny
Just outside of Downrigger's, we hopped onto a section of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT), which will hopefully one day stretch from Port Townsend, all the way across the Olympic Peninsula, to La Push.  The trail here is paved and level, with beautiful views of Port Angeles Harbor.  (There is also a lot of dog shit on the grass in front of the hotel, so be careful if you go.)  Just past the Rayonier Mill site, the trail turns inland and passes some cool old rusty structures that urban hikers feel right at home around.  As we approached the west side of the wastewater treatment plant (you'll know when you're near it), we came upon a fork in the path and "TRAIL" signs that pointed us to the left.  But left seemed to take us way out of our way.  I knew that we needed to get off the trail at some point, but according to my maps, this was too early.  Sensing that we were close to Ennis Creek Road (which would take us to our next destination), I decided that we'd go against the signs and take the path to the right.

It wasn't long before the trail ended at a locked gate, near the guard shack at the entrance to the wastewater plant (see far left of this photo).  Several of us groaned at the idea of backtracking and getting back on the trail and I struggled to explain to everyone that this somehow wasn't my fault.  One fellow hiker, Malcolm, was not deterred, however.  He walked right up to the gate and found that the gate was indeed chained, but the padlock was not fully closed.  A dummy lock?  A mistake?  Either way, we were lucky.  We let ourselves out (or in, I'm still not sure which) and climbed Ennis Creek Road up to US-101 and our next beer stop, Joshua's.

Joshua's reminds me a lot of the Ballard Smoke Shop that we just recently visited.  It's an old-style diner in one half and a working class beers-n-booze bar in the other.  Fox News was on every TV when we arrived, but I didn't mind.  At least the sound wasn't turned up.  Their tap selection had a couple of decent offerings (Inversion IPA) and they even had bottles of Stone Arrogant Bastard.  Not bad!  We all grabbed a pint and relaxed a little bit.  I also inhaled some steamer clams without sharing a single one and helped myself to a couple of someone else's Buffalo sauce marinated mozzarella sticks (yes, they're as good as they sound).  Link once again had to wait outside (under some shelter), but it was safe and out of the way, so it was no problem.  He gets no shortage of love from all the passers-by. 

We picked up another hiker, Michelle, and headed back toward downtown P.A.  Just as we passed a liquor store, Kjell remarked that it would be great to do some root beer barrels when we got home.  This was the best idea I'd ever heard.  Without a second thought, I veered in and bought a bottle of Root Beer Schnapps.  If for some reason they were out of it, I would have torched that place.

After about 2 miles we were back in downtown Port Angeles and at Michael's, a very charming little downstairs restaurant with a classy little nook of a bar nestled right in the middle.  We couldn't see Link from where we sat, but since the alley entrance is bright and open, I felt comfortable hitching him up outside.  We all took turns checking on him and feeding him treats.  I ordered an Old Rasputin and we all shared some phenomenal crab artichoke dip.  As we were finishing up, a party of about 20 was arriving.  Good timing.

Bar Nine (aka: Bar N9ne) was next and only about 1/3 of a mile away.  Kjell's old friend (and consultant for this hike) Mark finally met up with us here, bringing the group up to six people.  This was easily the trendiest place we visited.  It has a very modern set-up inside with plenty of room.  Wednesday happens to be karoke night, so we powered through our beers (Silver City Red for me) and got the fuck out before that nightmare started.  Just looking at the microphones and video screens all set up and waiting gave me the chills.  We didn't have anything to eat at Bar 9, but I will definitely try to make it back next time I visit.  I've heard good things.

I purposely put Peaks Brewpub near the end of the hike because I suspected we'd spend more time here.  This is where the Port Angeles beer geeks hang -- and for good reason.  The tap list is the best in town and the house beers are very solid.  It reminded me of an older, smaller, more intimate Naked City Taphouse.  I don't remember what I had to drink, but three of them were house beers and I really liked them all.  (It was here that I thought I lost my notepad, only to find it hours later, safely stowed in my backpack.  Drunken idiot...)  Of all the places we went, I was most surprised that they weren't dog-friendly here.  It's a very warm environment with a very casual feel -- not unlike Beveridge Place Pub in Seattle.  But alas, Link once again had to wait for us outside.  He was getting irritated, I'm sure, and I don't blame him.  Little did he know, the worst was yet to come.

After a good long time at Peaks, we headed toward home and our last stop of the night.  When we got to Mark's place we were greeted by the biggest dog I have ever seen.  Diesel, a 16-month old Great Dane, had found his new favorite toy:  Link.  While the rest of us drooled over Mark's newly finished kegerator and drank pints of Wildcat IPA, Diesel proceeded to methodically strip away the last remnants of Link's energy.  They were going to play whether Link liked it or not.   I'd have had more sympathy for Link as he got repeatedly nudged and trounced, but he used to the exact same thing to older dogs when he was a puppy.

Not my idea
After a few slices of something called "Pie Peroni Pizza" (sort of like a deep dish pizza with more pepperoni than any human has a right to) I was hitting the wall, too.  It was time to scoop Link up and carry him the half block to Kjell's pad.  As soon as we got home, Mandy and Link went to bed, Malcolm -- unaware that he had dog shit all over his shoe and wouldn't find it until well into the car ride home the next day -- passed out on the couch, and Kjell and I had a couple of root beer barrels and watched The Daily Show.

I'd have to say it was a good day.

1 comment:

  1. Michelle and I had a blast, Dave! We are looking forward to our next UBH. Diesel (9 months old) misses Link and promises to be less passive with him next time. The Kegerator is back on wheels and ready for another workout... your crew is welcome again anytime.